Athletics Athletics

Tirop, Kasait take on Jebet in Seville X-Country

World Cross champion Agnes Tirop crosses the line for victory in Guiyang, China.

SEVILLE, Spain, Jan 19- The Kenyan pair of Lilian Kasait and Agnes Tirop will seek to run down Bahrain’s 3,000m Olympic Champion Ruth Jebet this weekend at the Cross Internacional de Itálica in Santiponce on the outskirts of the Spanish city of Seville.

This will be the third Spanish stop of the IAAF Cross Country Permit after last weekend’s explosive meet in Elgoibar.

While Olympic steeplechase champion and world record-holder Jebet remains undefeated this cross-country season, 2015 world cross-country champion Tirop will try to avenge her defeat in Elgoibar.

Meanwhile Kasait will be eager to avenge her Elgoibar defeat, having settled for third place after losing one of her shoes in the mud.

However, none of them has a guaranteed spot on Sunday’s podium as Kenya’s world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri will be on show too.

The 28-year-old enjoyed a memorable 2017, setting a Kenyan 5000m record of 14:18:37 in Rome before winning the world title in London.

Obiri recently had to settle for fourth in San Giorgio Su Legnano but won in Nairobi last Friday, beating world half marathon record-holder Joyciline Jepkosgei.

In the men’s race, Ethiopian sensation Selemon Barega, who will turn 18 on the eve of the competition, remains undefeated so far this cross-country season.

The world U20 5000m champion will again face Uganda’s rising star Jacob Kiplimo, who had to settle for second behind Barega in Venta de Baños and Elgoibar.

But world U20 cross-country champion Kiplimo may not be Barega’s toughest rival as Joshua Cheptegei is also entered for Sunday’s 11.075km race.

The 21-year-old Ugandan looked destined for the gold medal at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017 before fatigue set in during the closing stages and he faded to 30th place.

But his season ended on a high when he earned the 10,000m silver medal at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 in a huge career best of 26:49.94.

Cheptegei has shown fine form this winter, winning over 10km in Durban in 27:29 and at 15km in Nijmegen in 41:16, just three seconds outside the world record for the distance.

Kenya’s Leonard Komon, the holder of the world 10km and 15km records, will also be racing on Sunday after a disappointing 15th-place finish in Elgoibar.

He will be joined by fellow Kenyan Conseslus Kipruto, although the world and Olympic steeplechase champion seemed to be far from his best fitness in Elgoibar.